It has been a year since EE Times produced a version16.1 of the Silicon 60. Over that time while the global economic situation can — at best — be said to have stabilized. There is a mood that the semiconductor and electronics industries are on the edge of “great expectations.”

There seems no doubt that the Internet of Things will have a revolutionary impact on how people can live their lives, but exactly how that will manifest itself in terms of components, software, platforms, legal and business models, is not yet clear nor is the next big thing.

Drones for everything from window cleaning to delivering parcels and autonomous driving are examples of what could be about to impact us. Sales revenue of associated components and software will be enormous — but not this year. The result being a semiconductor market that is expected to decline in 2016 as it did in 2015. That is unprecedented in the absence of a general economic catastrophe — the global chip market did fall in 2008 and 2009 according to WSTS, but for obvious reasons.

Entrepreneurs are not daunted by the comings and goings of economic indices or industry consolidation but are greatly excited by the opportunities afforded by turning points in technology. So as usual there is no shortage of startup companies coming through to be considered for admission to the Silicon 60.

We can even discern a tentative return of venture capital to hardware startups. However, it should be noted that with the fast pace of system-level change we are experiencing is forcing more startups to pivot at some point to try and intersect with a viable market.

EE Times has selected 25 startup companies to come on to version 17.1 of its list of 60 firms that we feel are worth keeping an eye on. Some are more mature than others and may be lucky enough to start seeing the market coming towards them.

EE Times has been updating and publishing the Silicon 60 since April 2004 to reflect the latest corporate, commercial, technology and market conditions. The latest batch of newcomers include companies active in materials, MEMS sensors and actuators, displays, machine learning, networking, EDA, image sensing, wireless power, open-hardware and memory.

To make way for the newcomers, 25 companies have dropped off the list. Some of those were acquired including: Cambridge CMOS Sensors, MagnaCom and Soft Kinetic. Others have simply become mature with the passage of time. Those more mature companies, while no longer listed on the Silicon 60, may yet fulfil an investors’ dream of moving to public ownership or going through a high-priced company sale.

The selection of the 60 companies in Silicon 60 v17.0 is based on the consideration of a mix of criteria including: technology, intended market, financial position and investment profile, maturity and executive leadership. They are emerging companies to follow — for a variety of reasons. The names of the companies brought on to the Silicon 60 at this iteration are highlighted in red in the listing below.

Readers are welcome to nominate their own emerging companies for inclusion in a future iteration of the Silicon 60list. Nominations should be supported by a short citation providing basic details about the company and explaining why the company is suitable for inclusion on the list. Click here to submit your nomination.

— A —

Aledia SA (Grenoble, France), has developed a method of forming light-emitting diodes (LEDs) on vertical pillars of gallium-nitride grown on silicon wafers. The company span out of CEA-Leti in 2011 and claims the technique produces three times more light per planar area than conventional approaches while using less GaN material. In the last year the company has received backing from automotive supplier Valeo and furnishings supplier Ikea.

Ambiq Micro Inc. (Austin, Texas) founded in 2010, is a fabless chip company developing low power microcontrollers and mixed-signal systems that operate at sub-threshold voltages. Investors include ARM Holdings and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers

Anacode Labs Inc. (Aptos, Calif.), founded in 2015 by signal compression expert Al Wegener, has a mission to provide compression hardware and software under an IP licensing business model for use in data storage and communications applications. Wegener previously founded and exited Samplify Systems.

Arctic Sand Technologies Inc. (Cambridge, Mass.), founded in 2010 as an MIT spin-off, is working on power conversion circuits for high-efficiency power management applications. It has developed power conversion chips using switched-capacitor techniques that are 10 times smaller and 75 percent more efficient that traditional conversion systems, according to investor Arsenal Venture Partners. Strategic investors include Dialog Semiconductor plc and Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

Aspinity Inc. (Morgantown, West Virginia) founded in June 2012 by Vinod Kulathumani an associate professor at West Virginia University, is developing reconfigurable analog signal processing circuits as ICs and IP. By extracting application-relevant characteristics prior to digitizing sensor data, Aspinity claims it can reduce the overall power and cost required in applications such as voice control, health monitoring, and industrial vibration monitoring.

Astrapi Corp. (Dallas, Texas), founded in 2009, is the pioneer of spiral-based signal modulation, which provides novel ways to build symbol waveforms used to encode digital wireless transmission. Astrapi claims it is able to improve the trade-off between the four fundamental parameters in telecommunications: bandwidth, signal power, data throughput, and error rate. The company claims the resulting efficiency translates into higher spectral performance with more bits available at a lower cost.

Autotalks Ltd. (Kfar Netter, Israel), a fabless startup founded in 2008, has developed chipset and software that combine signal processing, security and positioning information to create vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications for automotive OEMs and their suppliers.

— B —

Baikal Electronics JSC (Moscow, Russia), founded in 2012 is a fabless semiconductor company specializing in ARM- and MIPS-based processors and systems on a chip (SoC). The Baikal family of multicore processors includes SoCs for desktops and industrial computers with various levels of performance and functionality. The company is backed by Russian supercomputer firm T-Platforms and sovereign investment fund Rusnano.

Barefoot Networks Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.), a microprocessor startup founded in 2013 that has attracted $130 million in funding from strategic backers that include Google, Goldman Sachs and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. Its Tofino chips are aimed at making the programming complex networks as easy as writing C++ code in an emerging open-source language it helped create called P4.

Blue Danube Systems Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.), founded in May 2013, is a fabless chip company that reckons it can boost the capacity of LTE wireless communications by supporting more sectors around a basestation. The company has raised about $23 million and the CEO is Mark Pinto a former vice president and fellow of Bell Labs and executive vice president of Applied Materials.

BrainChip Inc. (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) is developing spiking neural networking cores for licensing to semiconductor partners. Founded in December 2013 but now owned by BrainChip Holdings Ltd. which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Brite Semiconductor (Shanghai) Corp. (Shanghai, China) was founded in 2008 and is located at Zhangjiang Hi-tech Park. It is an SoC and ASIC design company that pulls together intellectual property, foundry, test and packaging technologies to create custom silicon for its customers. Brite is backed by local foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.

— C to D —

Chirp Microsystems Inc. (Albany, Calif.) was founded in 2013 to commercialize a low-power ultrasonic gesture recognition technology intended for use in mobile and wearable devices. Developed by a team of researchers from BSAC (Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center) and SwarmLAB at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, Chirp uses MEMS ultrasound transducers to detect and track a user’s gestures in 3D space

Chronocam AS (Paris, France) is a startup company founded in 2014 that develops machine vision sensors and systems based on asynchronous pixel sensor technology. The novel architecture creates an image sensor that is closer to a biological model and a method of reporting image changes reduces off-chip bandwidth requirements and system power consumption. Chronocam has received seed investment from Robert Bosch Venture Capital and CEA Investissement.

Credo Semiconductor Inc. (Milpitas, Calif.) is a self-funded private fabless company founded in 2008 by three engineering veterans that had worked in Silicon Valley. Credo is focused on high-speed mixed-signal ICs and IP targeting the data center and enterprise networking markets.  The company’s SerDes include designs that have been implemented in 28nm and 16nm FinFET processes.

Cricket Semiconductor Pvt. Ltd. (Bengaluru, India), founded in 2014, aims to establish India’s first high-volume, globally competitive production wafer fab focused on analog and power technologies. The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the state of Madhya Pradesh and has plans to locate the fab on an industrial park on the outskirts of the city of Indore.

Crossbar Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) is a 2010 spin-off from University of Michigan that has developed a resistive random access memory (ReRAM) based on the movement of silver ions through amorphous silicon to form a filamentary structure. The company is aiming to produce multi-layered stand-alone terabyte memory die as well as integrating the technology in standard CMOS logic to provide embedded non-volatile memory.

Dispelix Oy (Haukipudas, Finland), founded in 2015, has developed special gratings and optical waveguides that can route an image from a display engine located in the frame of smart spectacles, directly to the wearer’s retina. The company researchers have dealt with several issues typically associated with optical grating approach, namely rainbow effects and pattern artefacts due to transmissive diffraction.

Dyna Image Corp. (New Taipei City, Taiwan) formed as a spin off from Lite-On Semiconductor in 2013. Develops and sells optical and inertial sensors, hybrid sensors and sensor fusion software.

— F to I —

Flex Logix Technologies Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.) is a startup founded to bring a field-programmable gate array architecture to market as a licensable fabric for inclusion in system chips. Founded in March 2014 and supported by Lux Capital soon afterward.

Gowin Semiconductor Corp. (Foshan, Guangdong, China),was founded in 2013 to develop FPGAs and is backed by Chinese investors. The Series A round target was to raise 500 million RMB (about US$82 million). The R&D team is based in Shanghai, Jinan and Foshan. The company has launched two families of FPGAs, one being non-volatile. Gowin has a wholly-owned subsidiary, Melody Semiconductor LLC, in Silicon Valley whose main tasks are market research, customer project management and consulting.

Indie Semiconductor trading name of AyDeeKay LLC (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) designs and manufactures customized integrated circuits making use of multi-die packaging to offer custom microcontrollers. The company was founded in 2007 and is profitable with about 50 employees.

Ineda Systems Pvt. Ltd. (Hyderabad, India), a fabless chip company founded in 2010, is developing MIPS-architecture wearable and IoT processors and has announced funding by Samsung, Qualcomm and Imagination Technologies Group plc amongst others. The company has a design win in Samsung’s Artik-1 board intended for use in sensor hubs and wireless beacons.

Innovium Inc. (San Jose, Calif.), founded in December 2014 by former executives of Broadcom and Cavium, is focused on developing semiconductor solutions for Ethernet networking and has assembled an executive team with prior experience at leading companies including Broadcom, Cavium, Cisco, Dell, Ericsson, Intel and Juniper. The company raised more than $50 million in 2015

Intento Design SA (Paris, France), an EDA company founded in spring 2015 by Farakh Javid, chief technology officer, provides analog and mixed-signal circuits as IP that can automatically scaled for performance and migrated between manufacturing processes. 

Intrinsic-ID BV (Eindhoven, The Netherlands) was founded in 2008 as a spin-off from Royal Philips Electronics and provides hardware-intrinsic security technology – also referred to as a Physical Unclonable Function or PUF. The technology derives cryptographic keys based on the specific silicon implementation and how that affects nominally metastable structures, which could be considered a silicon fingerprint. Security is enhanced as no key is stored and there is nothing to find in the power-down state.

— K —

Kandou Bus SA (Lausanne, Switzerland) is a chip-to-chip SerDes developer that claims its technology delivers two to four times the bandwidth of traditional differential signalling at half the power consumption and is hopeful that is Chord signalling will find use in applications from smartphone SoCs to servers and high performance computing. The company, founded in 2011, has received an investment of $15 million from Bessemer Venture Partners.

Kateeva Inc. (Newark, Calif.), a 2008 startup founded to manufacture and supply production equipment for organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays, is developing an inkjet-based printing method to allow the mass production of large-scale, flexible OLED displays that will also be low-cost the company claims. The firm is backed by investors that include: Applied Materials, DBL Investors, Madrone Capital Partners, Musea Ventures, New Science Ventures, Sigma Partners, Spark Capital, and Veeco.

Keyssa Inc. (Campbell, Calif.) has raised $47 million from Intel, Samsung and others to develop a wireless ‘connector’ that transmits data at up to 6Gbits per second. The interconnect technology is called “Kiss Connectivity” and it uses 60GHz wireless transceiver modules in close proximity to transmit data at up to 6-Gbits per second.

Kyulux Inc. (Fukuoka, Japan) is developing organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology for use in displays and lighting industries based on research conducted at Kyushu University. One of Kyulux’s cofounders is Prof. Chihaya Adachi, the inventor of thermally-activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) technology. The company’s CEO is serial entrepreneur, scientist, licensed attorney and inventor Christopher Savoie. The company has received $13.5 million in backing from Samsung

— M to N —

mCube Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) was founded in September 2009 and has developed a method for integrating MEMS motion sensors above electronic circuitry in a standard CMOS wafer fab using through-silicon via (TSV) connections. The process includes hermetic sealing of the assembly. The company claims that this provides an advantage in terms of sensor size that will help it with applications in wearable equipment and the Internet of things.

NetSpeed Systems Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) supplies on-chip network IPs to SoC designers for markets from mobile to high-performance computing and networking and developed through a system-level approach and user-driven automation. Founded in 2011.

Nextinput Inc. (Atlanta, Georgia) founded in 2012 as a spin-off from Georgia Tech to commercialize a force-sensitive touch technology developed by CEO and co-founder Ian Campbell. The company claims it can provide a tactile, force or pressure sensitive method of interfacing with virtually any electronic device. Steve Nasiri, founder of InvenSense, is on the board of directors, and Kurt Petersen serves on a technical advisory board.

Nikola Labs LLC (Columbus, Ohio) was founded in October 2014 in partnership with The Ohio State University, Ikove Venture Partners, and Ohio State professors. Nikola Labs specializes in wireless power solutions and radio frequency (RF) energy harvesting for mobile devices. The company’s energy harvesting system converts ambient RF signals – such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and LTE — into usable DC power suitable for sensors and devices.

Nxtsens Microsystems Inc. (Montreal, Canada) founded in 2015 is designing temperature-compensated oscillators and other timing circuits. Based on proprietary technology that allows for the fabrication of resonators in a high-vacuum environment, Nxtsens uses wafer-level packaging.

— P to R —

PsiKick Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) has developed a wireless sensor networking SoC using an operating voltage down to 0.25V. PsiKick was launched in 2012 based on the work of Benton Calhoun and David Wentzloff conducted at the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan in low-power digital and analog circuit design.

QST (Shanghai, China), founded in 2012, otherwise known as Shanghai Quality Sensor Technology Corp. Ltd. has two eCompass products; the QMC5983 and the QMC6983. Basd on a licensing of Honeywell’s anisotropic magnetoresistive (AMR) sensor technology and is also working on gyroscopes.

Quantum Materials Corp. (San Marcos, Texas), founded in 2008 is a manufacturer of quantum dot materials and in particular of non heavy metal quantum dots for use in liquid crystal displays and other applications.

Quanergy Systems Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.), founded in 2012, is developing solid-state photonic beam-steered lidar for use in assisted and autonomous automobiles. It has a broad team experienced in optics, photonics, optoelectronics, artificial intelligence software and control systems. The company raised $90 million in a Series B round of funding in 2016 that valued the company at more than $1 billion.

Rockley Photonics Inc. (Pasedena, Calif.) was founded in August 2013 by a management team with experience in commercializing silicon photonics and CMOS electronics. The company is integrating photonics and control electronics to simplify network switch design. Chairman and CEO, Andrew Rickman, previously founded Bookham Technology in the UK and more recently served as chairman of Kotura Inc. The company is establishing a fabless silicon photonics business model and infrastructure.

— Sa to So —

Saigon Semiconductor Technology Inc. (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) designs and manufactures RF, microwave and millimeter-wave semiconductors and offers gallium arsenide foundry services. Founded in 2014 SSTI is building a wafer fab to house equipment acquired from Universal Semiconductor Technology Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.).

Sensifree Ltd. (Cupertino, Calif.) was founded in 2012 and claims to have developed a contact free, electromagnetic sensor that accurately collect a range of continuous biometric data without the need to touch the human body. The Sensifree technology uses RF signal to sense movement in the radial artery wall to track heart rate, and in the future blood pressure. Having taken the pulse digital signal processing is used to extract more information.

SiFive Inc. (San Francisco, Calif.) was founded in 2015 by creators of the free and open RISC-V processor architecture as a reaction to the end of conventional transistor scaling and escalating chip design costs. SiFive’s mission is to bring the power of open-source and agile hardware design to the semiconductor industry.

SigFox Wireless SAS (Toulouse, France) founded in 2009 is the developer and operator of a cellular network in France dedicated to low-throughput machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things. It makes use of ultranarrow band radio technology and licenses operators in other countries including the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark.

Sol Chip Ltd. (Haifa, Israel), founded in 2009, has developed a chip scale photovoltaic energy harvester which can provide voltages at between 0.75V and 9V useful for autonomous low-power electronic systems. The PV cell can produce 3.3-milliwatts in full daylight and up to 20-microwatts under office lighting.

SolidEnergy Systems Corp. (Woburn, Mass.), founded in 2012 by Qichao Hu during his postdoctoral work at MIT, has introduced the “anode-free” lithium metal battery in 2014 with superior energy density and safety but that can still made using existing Li-ion factories. Applications include drones, watches and wearables, smartphones, and electric cars.

— Sp to Su —

Spin Transfer Technologies Inc. (Boston, Mass.) was established by Allied Minds and New York University in 2007 to develop and commercialize its Orthogonal Spin Transfer magnetoresistive random access memory technology, OST-MRAM. The technology, invented by Professor Andrew Kent, is an innovation in the field of spin-transfer-based MRAM devices.

Standing Egg Co. Ltd. (Seoul, Korea) was founded in May 2013 and develops MEMS sensor products including accelerometers, gyroscopes, pressure sensors, and others.

Stratio Inc. (Menlo Park, Calif.), founded in 2013, is developing low-cost germanium (Ge) based short wavelength infrared (SWIR) image sensors suitable for use in mobile devices. Stratio’s sensor utilizes a proprietary hybrid process that combines selective Ge epitaxial growth with established Si CMOS technology to overcome the limitations of conventional InGaAs-based SWIR sensors.

StoreDot Ltd. (Ramat Gan, Israel) was founded in 2011 to develop products and technology around peptide—based organic quantum dot materials. These nanometer-scale crystals have physical dimensions so small that quantum mechanics affect the electro-optic properties. The materials are tunable and the range of behaviors is wide, offering potential applications in displays, non-volatile memories, image sensors and batteries.

SureCore Ltd. (Sheffield, England) SureCore is a 2011 spin-off from Glasgow University and is working on memory IP at 28nm and smaller critical dimensions in FinFET and FDSOI processes alongside simulation firm Gold Standard Simulations Ltd. Gold Standard Simulations was recently acquired by Synopsys

— T to W —

Telink Semiconductor Co. Ltd. (Shanghai, China) is a fabless IC company formed in 2010 and backed by Intel Capital in 2015. It develops highly integrated low power radio-frequency and mixed signal system chips for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Its product portfolio includes low-power 2.4GHz RF SoCs for Bluetooth Smart, Zigbee, 6LoWPAN/Thread, Homekit and low-power high-precision analog ICs for touch control, serving smart lighting, home automation, smart city, and other consumer electronics.

TeraDeep Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) founded in December 2013 as spin off from Purdue University to focus on the design of mobile coprocessors and neural network hardware for the understanding of images and videos.

Ultrahaptics Ltd. (Bristol, England) founded in 2013, uses a compact array of ultrasound transducers to send inaudible sound waves through the air, using phase-shift techniques to control the focus and intensity of the acoustic radiation pressure into haptic feedback.

USound GmbH (Graz, Austria) is fabless MEMS company that was founded in 2014 with the mission of producing audio systems based on MEMS actuators. USound is collaborating with Fraunhofer ISIT (Institute for Silicon Technology Itzehoe Germany) to develop MEMS speakers that enable higher system integration, smaller form factor at lower cost with better hardware performance compared to the existing electro-dynamic transducers. USound products can include audio amplifiers, audio codecs and passive components and may be suitable for smartphones and wireless in-ear systems.

Vesper Technologies Inc. (Boston, Mass.), previously called Baker-Calling and Sonify, is a University of Michigan startup founded in July 2009 to develop piezoelectric MEMS microphones and bring superior microphones to handheld devices. The company claims its piezoelectric MEMS sensing is to be able to reduce the noise-floor compared with conventional capacitive sensing technology.

V-Nova Ltd. (London, England) founded in 2011 by Guido Meardi (CEO), Luca Rossato (chief scientist), Eric Achtmann (executive chairman) and Pierdavide Marcolongo (angel investor), to create a superior video codec. Perseus is the result and is being developed in an open innovation model with a business consortium that includes Broadcom, Encompass, Intel, Hitachi and Sky Italia.

Wavelens SA (Grenoble, France) is a CEA-Leti spinoff that was launched in November 2012. The company focuses on developing MEMS optical systems to integrate such functions as autofocus, image stabilization and zoom.

Weebit Nano Ltd. (Tel Aviv, Israel), founded in 2014, has an R&D agreement with Rice University (Houston, Texas) and has licensed 7 patents on the silicon oxide Resistive Random Access Memory (ReRAM) technology being researched there by Professor James Tour. A first commercial device is expected by mid-2017.

WiTricity Corp. (Watertown, Mass.) was founded in 2007 to commercialize technology developed by company founder Professor Marin Soljacic to enable wireless power transfer over distance using magnetic resonance in line with the A4WP Rezence specification. It is licensing its technology for use in consumer electronics, automotive, medical devices and defense.

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